Sunday, October 14, 2012

The first rule of West-Park


Last night, stayed up with Zeljko reviewing his shooting. He’s very happy with the results, with the characters. He walks miles and miles through the city. Has come to know different neighborhoods, their characteristics, their feel. He finds our neighborhood a bot of an anomaly, a place with no clear distinction, a constant flow. And West-Park in the geographic center, a place like a crossroads where different cultures and classes run into one another. He has seen what it is we are and are seeking to be. 

There are some people we haven’t managed to film I feel I really want to round out the picture....

This morning, I run into him and his daughter meeting a Serbian embassy friend for coffee. Luisa walks by with her dog Harry and Zeljko’s daughter is intrigued. There is some ongoing political intrigue happening  between the Serbian UN mission and the US mission involving a cancelled gay pride parade in Belgrade and these officials insist that these other officials appear and/or.... all touches our screening in one way or another. 

Kimberley arrives for her weekly supervisory session but is also very concerned about her upcoming medical situation. Nevertheless, we meet with Steven and Glen to review plans for the screening. Things seem to be falling into place with hard work.

Teddy is supervising the work of  Solomon and Brandon from St. Agnes. Crunch time is fast approaching.


A full day of work preparing for the screening.  Banners arriving, ready to go up on the scaffolding. Posters going in all the outdoor boxes.

Late in the day,things get tense. To say the least. While on the scaffolding to hang the banners, what appears to be a crack pipe is discovered. Assumptions made. But closer examination raises questions. No windows from anyone currently in the building open onto the scaffolding. The only window is from what was the free medical clinic until recently. I learn more about crack pipes than I ever intended to. And there are good important  discussions to have about the nature of urban ministry, expectations, etc. Acceptance vs. accountability. All of that. But this is not such a great time to  have that discussion. 

I do make clear: we do have a zero tolerance policy for the building and drugs. Anyone who violates  that will be asked to leave, regardless of my feelings for them. But assumption is not evidence. And I do trust that there is enough loyalty and respect in our core group that the policy will be followed, not to jeopardize the church or me personally. More than likely the pipe goes back to the craziest days of Occupy. In all we do we struggle with the line between acceptance and enabling. The answers are not aleas easy. And there is work to be done.

In the middle of this conversation,  Deacon James comes in desperate to pull together funeral arrangements for his late wife on Long Island. Time is running out. And Rachel is in my face about her struggles with trying to fulfill her agreement to get her accumulated stuff out of the sanctuary. What began as an overstuffed SUV shopping cart has grown into a mini mountain. She keeps trying to make me see the value of this or that treasure.All the time speaking in a voice and speed that makes me feel like serious dental work is going on inside me.

I keep forgetting the first rule of West-Park: you can’t have a rational conversation  with an irrational person. 

I feel the chaos pushing in.....

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